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Old 05-20-2014, 04:09 PM   #1
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First 'real' trip - Report - Topsail

So our first full 1 week trip in our bunkhouse was last week. Drove from Birmingham down just east of Destin, FL to Topsail Hill State Park and stayed there.

Drive down was unremarkable - kids actually did great - was so amazing to stop off on side of road at some abandonded gas station on I think highway 55 south and just go eat lunch in the trailer, use the bathroom, and let my 3 year old roam around in some weeds looking at bugs for 10 min or so.

I booked my spot as I recall in february or march and there were like 4 spots left at all...we got spot seven....most all of the spots at Topsail are very nice, and achieve nice seperation from the neighbors but this first area of the site is pretty wide open - at my 114 spot in january you had such a nice isolation when going out to relax, cook, etc...but still it was ok, and the weather was near perfect most days and we had a blast.

We ended up biking with our kids and beach stuff instead of taking the "tram" (which runs at top of hour every hour 9am-7pm. lovely bike ride and gave us total flexibility with unpredictable kids on beach).

Put my first "ding" in the airstream...somehow someone allowed the door to catch and fligh a bit too hard and instead of simply latching into the latch of the side of the AS, it appears that the area where the key goes in to operate the deadbolt slightly contacted the aluminum panel causing a very very small penny size ding...barely noticeable....when I first saw it I flinched and thought it was a spot for a rivet...gave me the idea of finding a rivet and glueing it over that little spot and make it appear that way...I put a tad of clear coat from a clear coat pen on that scratch and moved on, its very small, no biggie...wife and I will be more cautious about that issue!

On the trip back home, we stopped at a "gitty up and go" gas station to get a snack and let my 3 year old use their bathroom...this near andalusia, AL on highway 55 North...left truck running with wife, daughter, and boston terrier in truck....wife then got out with daughter leaving dog inside after turning off engine and leaving keys in ignition to bring daughter inside for a minute....dog then uses paw to depress the LOCK button and lock keys and cell phones IN truck....used phone from gas station to call AAA - the employees of "gitty up and go" did not know the address and the AAA rep after I gave her 2 businesses surrounding thought she had the right address - gave the tow service the wrong one, which ended up no big deal cause he just went to the next gitty up and go and that was us...about a 45 min wait total...put the awning out during this time and a couple chairs and snacked....dude put this wire thingie through the door and was able to hit the unlock button (pretty impressive)...and we were on our way...got home fine and dog did not die

I have now on order a lock box (button combination type) and have a storage scheme for key backups.

My propride hitch during both hitch ups was giving me a hell of a time getting it properly lined up....need more practice with it...first few times I have done it flawlessely with no issues, this trip it seemed I was not getting it quite right...but no biggie got it done fine in both cases.

We had 30amp only at our spot and first half of the week in the low 80s, it pretty much had to run all day to keep it down around 74 or so (reminder, there was no tree cover in this spot, otherwise I think it would have run half as much, I deployed all awnings including street side most of the time during the day hours) - we stayed comfortable and slept well most of the trip, kids as well.

The new heavier duty drawer catches we replaced did not let go of any drawers this time in transit.

We had one overhead compartment door come off the hinge when the screws that held it to the hardware ripped out of the wood - I was able to fix this, but noticed that many of the screws holding the other doors had been as I suspected overtightened by JC - about half of these screws are nice and tight, and others just keep on turning - my assumption is this was done with electric drills improperly set up for this task...applying wood glue to all of these to correct soon and frankly will try and inspect any and all such screws for once stripped out and repair them similarly now.

Used the sewer solution again without using the integrated flush - worked fine, ableit much slower I think...I just did other things while it was draining (packing the truck etc), then once done I run the AS internal sewer flush a few times until it all came out pretty clear...then dumped grey water, then used sewer solution flush to clean out...and done...

Put the airstream rug outside as it just traps sand...man, how do people with carpets go to the gulf beaches?!?! Also, how in the hell do I keep sand and grit out of the front queen bed when my wife drags around her blanket at times on the floor in the morning and evening and with two small kids? (rhetorical question I presume).

Smores over my lazy man propane fire pit every evening, used my grill and made alot of food - burgers, zuchinni, asparagus, corn, hot dogs...wife napped alot - kids LOVED the beach and we all stayed very comfortable and most of the time did not even need or bother with an umbrella...strip kids down and used AS outdoor shower to get rid of sand....and somehow...and this is some sort of miralce...my youngest in diapers still did not poop while at the beach...ever....

Met some great folks too...neighbors next to us were from Quebec, they pulled a small travel trailer of some sort - very small - with what looked like a toyota matrix (or somesuch compact) and two kayaks on top....other side of me another similar setup, but they had a pickup truck and were from PA on a 3 week trip down through this region. Also met a fun couple of guys who offered the wife and I free mixed drinks - they were staying in a big motorhome - it was a very new appearing winnebago - pretty fancy looking - they were both retired airforce - had a hilarious sign on the front (along with a few others) "free drinks tomorrow", made me chuckle.

We had a blast...in 3 weeks we are camping KID FREE for a 4 day weekend over at Vogel State Park in GA...really psyched!
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Old 05-20-2014, 04:13 PM   #2
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Old 05-20-2014, 04:40 PM   #3
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Sounds like a great first "real" trip.

This may or may not apply but based on personal experience with AC trying to deal with Texas summer heat and humidity. If the AC appears to be struggling to drop temps 6 degrees in full sun, after a couple of hours of running, turn it off for about 30 minutes, then turn it back on... it may be freezing up because of the humidity. I battled with ours for a couple of years until someone suggested this and the first time I did it, almost accidentally, I was amazed at how all of a sudden I had AC that was cooling again. It may or may not apply to your situation but thought I would pass it along just in case.

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Old 05-20-2014, 04:42 PM   #4
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Glad you had such a good time!

Our first real "big" voyage will be July and August in the Canadian Maritimes (New Brunswick, Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island.)

Our first shake down cruise will be next week at Alumapalooza.
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Old 05-20-2014, 04:52 PM   #5
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Great story. All your careful planning has set up a family activity that will put memories in the bank for many years. Good job Dad.

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Old 05-20-2014, 05:53 PM   #6
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What a great recap of an awesome sounding trip! Sounds like you had a wonderful time. Now that you have your dog trained to lock doors, doncha think it's time to teach him/her to unlock them?

Our first week-long trip is in July to Mt. Desert Island, ME. Can only hope it goes as well as yours. I've loved following along in your posts while you waited for your AS (and I've learned a lot from your questions and the responses -- many thanks). So glad to hear that you and your family are enjoying it. Happy travels!
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Old 05-20-2014, 06:15 PM   #7
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Oh you know I tried to replicate the chaos to unlock - of course 20 min of attempts only caused frustration - I gave up and just chilled under the awning
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Old 05-20-2014, 06:19 PM   #8
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I'll have to keep that AC trick in mind

2nd half of the week and mostly did not need much AC - afternoons ran the fans with most windows open - felt great
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Old 05-20-2014, 06:39 PM   #9
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I travel with a wife and two boys, as well as anything from 2 to 4 dogs (i.e., from about 120 lbs to about 250 lbs of canine). What I've learned over the years is this: The rule is that someone always stays with the car while other people go to the bathroom, etc. My family thinks I'm a fascist dictator about this, but some people (I'm not naming names) will either (a) leave the car open and walk away (b) leave their keys in the car and walk away not knowing whether the other person has keys or not (c) get out of the car and leave the doors open "for just a sec" then get distracted by something and away go the dogs ...

And so on. So the rule: One person always with the car. That means if one of us is walking the dogs or going to the bathroom, the other has to be with the car, with the keys in their hand. It sounds incredibly rigid, but it has saved us from untold problems.
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Old 05-20-2014, 06:40 PM   #10
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Dave I'm jealous - ME will be amazing!!

That was out last vacation nearly 2 years ago - western Maine - "rangely" - absolutely fell in love with Maine - can't wait to visit east coast!!
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Old 05-20-2014, 06:59 PM   #11
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We can't wait! It's an Airstream Rendezvous too. For me, spending the first 33 yrs of my life in the south, it's fantastic exploring all parts of New England now. Y'all get up here, let us know. And keep your travel stories coming. We've only done a few weekend trips, all in NH so far. All have gone well, except for the one time we didn't flush all the water (clean, of course) out of the toilet. A little spillage. Oops!
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Old 05-20-2014, 07:12 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Belbein View Post
I travel with a wife and two boys, as well as anything from 2 to 4 dogs (i.e., from about 120 lbs to about 250 lbs of canine). What I've learned over the years is this: The rule is that someone always stays with the car while other people go to the bathroom, etc. My family thinks I'm a fascist dictator about this, but some people (I'm not naming names) will either (a) leave the car open and walk away (b) leave their keys in the car and walk away not knowing whether the other person has keys or not (c) get out of the car and leave the doors open "for just a sec" then get distracted by something and away go the dogs ...

And so on. So the rule: One person always with the car. That means if one of us is walking the dogs or going to the bathroom, the other has to be with the car, with the keys in their hand. It sounds incredibly rigid, but it has saved us from untold problems.

I second this position!!

I feel naked without keys in my hand! Only left them at that point cause they were in the car and left running with AC on

Well - best I can do is hope experience brings natural consequences - but honestly I'll just need backup keys to be sure!!
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Old 05-20-2014, 08:36 PM   #13
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Great loving family story and adorable photos. Do you leave your awning our 24/7 while. Camping? I would like to but feR if wind comes and twists anything, i and stuck. Am I being too cautious?
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Old 05-20-2014, 08:48 PM   #14
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Magnetic key box under truck somewhere for the truck door key (mechanical key just for door, not Dodge electronic ignition module). Inside truck have the 3rd or 4th set of trailer keys........
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